By Rusty Bradshaw
Maricopa County Department of Transportation activity in the Sun Cities slowed down for the summer, but the agency is gearing up for more projects to improve roadways in the age-restricted communities.
“Right now, we don’t have any construction projects scheduled for Sun City or Sun City West during the summer,” Nicole Moon, MCDOT public information officer, stated in an email.
However, there are projects under study for Sun City West and an improvement study of 99th Avenue in Sun City will begin in the fall, according to Ms. Moon.
While there are no summer projects planned by MCDOT officials during the summer in Sun City West, they do have three projects in the planning stages, according to Ms. Moon. All are in what MCDOT officials call the scoping process. PORA of Sun City West officials will also be meeting with MCDOT leaders in August to discuss future projects and other items of concern in the community, according to Dave Poling, PORA board president.
“We will discuss planned projects and ideas on how to deal with speeding and other safety issues,” Mr. Poling stated in an email. “We have a very good working relationship with them and I am optimistic that something positive will result.”
The first of the planned projects already being studied is rehabilitation of roadway segments along White Rock Drive, Stardust Boulevard and Granite Valley Drive and connecting streets southwest of R.H. Johnson Boulevard, according to information in the MCDOT website, http://apps.mcdot.maricopa.gov, under the projects tab. They will receive either pavement overlay or rehabilitation based on the existing pavement condition and age of the roads. Existing sidewalk ramps will be reconstructed to ADA standards and new sidewalk ramps will be added in a number of locations to increase pedestrian access. Concrete valley gutter will be added at many of the intersections to improve drainage flow and preserve the pavement.
Another project will study the intersection of Meeker Boulevard and Granite Valley Drive for potential improvements to the existing sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, sidewalks, bike lanes and driveways, according to the website.
The third project will study Stardust Boulevard at Heritage Drive and Echo Mesa Drive for ADA improvements to the sidewalks and ramps at the intersections to help improve pedestrian access for residents, according to the website.
The Sun City Home Owners Association Roads and Safety Committee saw one of its concerns addressed — at least in part — just prior to the MCDOT summer slow down. Concrete was sprayed on the banks of the drainage canal between traffic lanes on 99th Avenue. The work was done to eliminate erosion in the canal, according to Ms. Moon.
“This project is part of an ongoing effort to improve the channel lining along 99th Avenue,” Ms. Moon explained. “The Lindgren Avenue to Union Hills Drive area was specifically chosen to further prevent erosion and reduce future maintenance costs.”
But Jim Powell, Roads and Safety Committee chairman, believes the task remains unfinished. The section between Union Hills Drive and Beardsley Road has as much if not more erosion than the Bell Road to Union Hills Drive section, he said. In addition, he believes a curb or some other barrier should be installed at the top of the canal banks adjacent to the roadway.
“With even a slight turn of the front wheels, a car can go right into that canal,” he said.
Ms. Moon stated MCDOT crews will be adding curbing to the area between Lindgren Avenue and Union Hills Drive. That work is planned for some time during the 2018-19 fiscal year, but no timetable has yet been set, she added.
MCDOT crews will also be doing some work on the canal south of Bell Road, where it is already lined with concrete. MCDOT crews last year replaced the channel lining along 99th Avenue between Grand Avenue and Bell Road. In addition to that work, the MCDOT maintenance team is planning to complete some repair work in the channel at 99th Avenue at Hutton Drive.
“You may see some activity out there in the next week,” Ms. Moon stated. “Crews will be pumping out standing water and then surveying the area to determine what repairs may be needed.”
In the fall, MCDOT will kick off a corridor improvement study along 99th Avenue from Olive Avenue to Beardsley Road. This study will look at the roadway needs along the corridor, including the number of travel lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks, Ms. Moon explained. It will also evaluate the channel lining and other potential safety improvements.
“We are planning to hold public meetings for this study,” Ms. Moon stated.
Meetings have not yet been scheduled.
Mr. Powell said the Roads and Safety Committee continues to believe a right-turn only lane should be installed northbound at Del Webb Boulevard and Bell Road and left-turn arrows should be installed at Thunderbird Boulevard and 103rd Avenue, as it is becoming a busy intersection during the day.
“We’d also like to see right-turn lanes at Boswell Boulevard and Bell Road, but it is so close to 99th Avenue it may never happen,” Mr. Powell said.
A committee push to have left turn arrows installed at 105th Avenue and Thunderbird Boulevard will be put on hold to see what the traffic patterns become after the Banner Boswell Medical Center, 10401 W. Thunderbird Road, emergency department is reconstructed.